Helsinki and weanling daughter lead Wednesday session.

Helsinki and weanling daughter lead Wednesday session.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Helsinki Sells for $3.9 Million at Keeneland; Business Continues to Boom

Helsinki and her weanling daughter by Unbridled's Song packed a huge one-two financial punch as both brought for seven-figure prices Wednesday during the third session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Business continued to boom overall, pushing the Central Kentucky auction's key statistics ahead of last year's pace.

Helsinki, the dam of recent Dewhurst Stakes (Eng-I) winner Shamardal and in foal to Cherokee Run, sold for $3.9 million to Coolmore Stud, which fought off a challenge from Kentucky horseman Ben P. Walden Jr. The mare's weanling daughter brought $1.15 million from Kentucky horseman John Sikura of Hill 'n' Dale Farm immediately afterward.

An 11-year-old winning daughter of Machiavellian, Helsinki is a full-sister to grade I winner Street Cry, a Horse of the Year in the United Arab Emirates. Shamardal is by Giant's Causeway, who stands at Coolmore's Kentucky division, Ashford Stud. Christy Grassick of Coolmore signed the sale ticket.

"It's pretty obvious really," said Coolmore managing partner John Magnier, when asked why the powerful international operation that he oversees purchased Helsinki. "That horse (Sharmardal) has beaten us a few times."

Magnier said that Helsinki would remain in this country and be bred to Giant's Causeway.

Sikura said he was impressed by Helsinki's weanling daughter because "she's a half-sister to a (probable) champion and her mare sold well. He added, "She's a big lengthy, growthy filly that hopefully will go on (developing physically) and become more valuable."

When asked if he had bought the filly for himself, Sikura said yes, but said he might "put something together." He also said the "options are open" when asked if the filly would be resold as a yearling or raced. A source close to the transaction indicated that Sikura had signed the sale ticket for Coolmore, but Magnier said that wasn't true.

Taylor Made Sales Agency, which had been honored earlier in the day at Keeneland for surpassing $1 billion in public auction sales, consigned Helsinki and her daughter for Dr. Phil McCarthy and Fred Hertrich. McCarthy is a Kentucky veterinarian, and Hertrich is a Delaware car dealer. They own Watercress Farm near Paris, Ky., and originally had acquired Helsinki privately.

"I would rather not say what we had to pay -- it was before Street Cry became what he was--but we did very well today," Hertrich said. "We sold her because Dr. McCarthy and I run our horse operation as a business to make a profit. It was a business decision. We would have loved to have kept her, but we couldn't afford to.

"Believe it or not, it (the price) was about what we figured the mare would bring based on what had happened so far at the sale," Hertrich continued. "I actually think she undersold a little bit considering how great and deep that family is."

Helsinki and her daughter raised the number of horses sold so far for seven-figure prices at the Keeneland auction to 35.

In all on Wednesday, 267 horses were sold for a gross of $40,070,000, an average price of $150,075, and a median price of $100,000. Compared to last year's figures for the same session, the gross and average soared 57.5% and 41.5%, respectively, while the median increased 16.3%. The buy-back rate fell from 24% to 21%. In 2003, the 240 horses sold grossed $25,448,000 and averaged $106,033. The median was $86,000.

Through three sessions, the figures were 691 horses sold for a gross of $202,533,500, an average of $293,102, and a median of $150,000. Compared to 2003's results, the gross was up 22.3%, and the average was up 7.3%. The median increased 11.1%. The buy-back rate fell from 26% last year to 20% this year. The numbers for 2003 were 606 horses sold for a gross of $165,541,000, an average of $273,170, and a median of $135,000.

According to Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, the trickle down effect resulting from the auction's strong start boosted business in the third session.

"As we've seen in previous sales, people who have been unable to buy on day one and day two come into day three (eager spend money) and we hope that rolls on," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales.

Narvick International's Emmanuel de Seroux, accompanied by Kendall-Jackson winery founder Jess Jackson, was active again Wednesday, purchasing 26 horses for $3,472,000. Through three days, Narvick is by far the auction's leading buyer, paying $20,629,000 for 89 horses.

Results, leading buyer, leading consignor, leading sire lists from Keeneland